Yellowcake Fever. Exposing the Uranium Industry’s Economic Myths Report in full at: http://www.acfonline.org.au/sites/default/files/resources/ACF_uranium_economics_Yellowcake_Fever.pdf by Dr Jim Green (FoEA) & Dave Sweeney (ACF), Australian Conservation Foundation, April 2013 (33 page PDF) Executive Summary: The Australian uranium industry involves serious and unresolved domestic and international security, environmental and inter-generational concerns and remains a contested and controversial sector that lacks a secure social license. This report examines the sectors small economic and employment contribution in relation to its significant risks and legacies and seeks to build the case for an independent cost-benefit analysis and a comprehensive and transparent assessment of the impacts and implications of Australia’s uranium trade.
Uranium is a small contributor to Australian export revenue and employment. From 2002 to 2011, uranium sales averaged $627 million annually and accounted for only 0.29% of all national export revenue. In the 2011/12 financial year, uranium revenue of $607 million was 4.4 times lower than Australia’s 20th biggest export earner, 8.7 times lower than Australia’s 10th biggest export earner and 103 times lower than the biggest earner, iron ore. Small industrial sectors can play an important economic role but the unique properties and risks of uranium mining relative to any benefits means its role requires particular scrutiny.
The industry’s contribution to employment is also underwhelming. The World Nuclear Association estimates 1,760 jobs in Australia’s uranium industry. That is the highest of all estimates yet it represents just 0.015% of all jobs in Australia. The industry’s primary promotional body, the Australian Uranium Association (AUA), claims its members are “significant employers of First Australians”
however the sector only provides around one job for every three thousand Indigenous Australians.
In the mid-2000s, there was a speculative uranium price bubble. Since this bubble burst the uranium industry has been battered by a falling commodity price, rising production costs, the Global Financial Crisis (and associated credit crisis), the failure of the global nuclear power ‘renaissance’ to materialise, the failure to develop new mines and serious production shortfalls……. Read more »
there was little mention of the waste — or “residue”, as Lynas prefers to call it.
Lynas and its supporters assert its operations are completely safe, but as NM reported on Monday, others — including scientists — are less confident.
The IAEA also recommended that Lynas proceed no further until it had filed comprehensive plans for the permanent disposal of waste, decommissioning of the plant and remediation of the site at the end of its life.
Lynas’ waste plans a toxic pipe dream Aliran, 19 December 2012 Scientists and community leaders are concerned about radioactive waste from Lynas’ Malaysian plant but the company representative who took Wendy Bacon’s questions brushed off the criticism. This is the second of two articles about Lynas by Wendy Bacon. Read the first here.http://aliran.com/11005.html Australian rare earth company Lynas has always known it had a waste problem.
It plans to process rare earth concentrate, imported from its mine at Mount Weld in Western Australia, at its Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lamp) in Malaysia. It will not only produce rare earths for export but also a huge amount of waste, including more than a million cubic metres of low level radioactive material.
Lynas was originally going to build its Lamp plant in China, which produces more than 90 per cent of global rare earths. But according to its 2007 annual report, it decided to move to Malaysia, because the Chinese government was increasing its control over production, including applying environmental standards more strictly. Read more »
Hello, didn’t Lynas say wastes to be exported? Malaysiakini Dec 10, 2012 Swipenter: Spending another RM2 million to install two units of radioactive detecting machinery is “unnecessary” expenditure. That is one callous and contemptous attitude towards the safety of Malaysians.
An Old Malaysian: The raw materials imported are not a danger to us due to the very low concentration of the radioactive elements.
However, if the raw materials are processed and the waste radioactive elements are being concentrated, they will become a threat to the environment, humans, animals, etc.
The danger is from the gamma radiation emitted by these radioactive elements. If in low concentration and exposure time is short, gamma radiation will be low and will not be harmful to us (for example, X-ray) but if the radioactive elements concentration is high (for example, Lynas waste products) they will be hazardous to all of us and the environment.
Why are the two radioactive detection monitoring systems – installed at Lamp and at the Kuantan police station – valued at RM2 million?
A Geiger-Mueller radiation detector will tell you if there is radiation emitted from the raw material.http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/216281
The most important outcome of this event was that Batman became the first and possibly the only early Anglo-Australian to formally recognise the indigenous Aboriginal population as property owners.
On this day: annulment of the Batman treaty AUSTRALIAN GEOGRAPHIC 27 Aug 12 IN 2012, MOST MELBOURNIANS would be confused if you offered them a handful of tomahawks, a few handkerchiefs, some blankets and some scissors for their land. One hundred and seventy-seven years ago in the rough-shod days of early Australian settlement, however, they
represented a princely sum. And that is exactly what settler John Batman used for currency to acquire the 250,000ha on which Melbourne and Geelong sit. Read more »
Note – I am not opposed to the mining and reprocessing of rare earths. I recognise that they are a necessary “lesser evil” in the development of modern and renewable technologies. BUT – rare earths reprocessing does produce toxic radioactive wastes, and the disposal of these wastes is an important issue that must be adressed, and clearly shown [ rather than spun] to the public. – Christina Macpherson
Whilst working with Alkane on a pilot rare earths processing plant, ANSTO has previously partnered with BHP Billiton at the Olympic Dam mine, Energy Resources Australia at the Ranger uranium mine, and a number of other Australian-based miners.
Chalmers marked final government approvals as other major hurdles beyond the research with ANSTO.
And while so far steering clear of local opposition, the company remains mindful of the importance of keeping those outside the industry on side.
All eyes on ANSTO, Australian Mining, 10 August, 2012 Andrew Duffy “….. On a tour of its ANSTO pilot plant Alkane managing director Ian Chalmers told Australian Mining the company [ Alkane Resources ] was aiming to be producing rare earths by 2015…..
The company also runs tours for schools and interested community members to ensure everyone’s well informed.
Chalmers told Australian Mining Alkane’s close relationship with the community had been part of the reason why the company had avoided the difficulties faced by Lynas. Lynas has faced significant community opposition to its rare earth
processing plant in Malaysia, and protestors have been the source of ongoing delays, cost blowouts, and multiple court battles. ….
while the company’s community and environmental relations are a focus, the research at its ANSTO plant is all about the science behind rare earths processing. Read more »
Poor safety record of Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA)
Inadequate Safety Practices at Lucas Heights and Inadequate Regulation by ARPANSA, Friends of the Earth 10 Aug 12 Since 2007, a saga has been unfolding regarding contamination accidents at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), ANSTO’s handling of those incidents, ANSTO’s treatment of whistleblowers, the handling of the matter by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), and the independence or otherwise of ARPANSA.
The saga has exposed inadequate safety practices at ANSTO and an inadequate performance by the regulator ARPANSA. The problems would not have been exposed and partially rectified if not for a number of ANSTO whistleblowers.
A few snapshots of this saga are noted below and more details can be found on the Friends of the Earth website:
28 August 2008 − Incident at ANSTO involving a vial of molybdenum-99. An audit found that proper processes were not followed: evacuation of the area did not occur, timely communication and event reporting, thorough investigation and follow-up did not occur. The staff member in question had not completed occupational health and safety induction training or a radiation safety course.
June 2009 − David Reid, an ANSTO employee and staff-elected health and safety officer, was suspended in June 2009 and sacked in June 2011. He repeatedly raised concerns about contamination incidents and some of his concerns were later vindicated. ANSTO states that his suspension and dismissal were unrelated to his statements regarding safety problems at ANSTO.
5 May 2010 − The ABC report states: “ARPANSA is Australia’s nuclear industry watchdog and Lateline has obtained a copy of its report into the accident. It largely supports David Reid’s concerns and raises further questions about safety at Lucas Heights. Read more »
The Medical Association for Prevention of War has released a statement signed by 45 medical doctors calling on uranium mining company Toro Energy to stop promoting the view that low-level radiation is beneficial to human health. Toro Energy, which plans to mine uranium at Wiluna in WA and has interests in uranium exploration ventures in the NT and SA, has sponsored speaking tours by controversial Canadian scientist Doug Boreham. The joint statement notes that recent research has heightened rather than reduced concern about the adverse health impacts of low-level radiation.
TORO ENERGY PROMOTES RADIATION JUNK SCIENCE , Statement by 45 doctors – (signatures at end ) 1 May 2012
Toro Energy is an Australian company involved in uranium exploration in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia and in Namibia, Africa. The company’s most advanced project is the proposed Wiluna uranium mine in the WA Goldfields.
Toro Energy has consistently promoted the fringe scientific view that exposure to low-level radiation is harmless. Toro Energy has sponsored at least three speaking visits to Australia by Canadian scientist Dr Doug Boreham, who argues that low-level radiation is actually beneficial to human health.
Those views are at odds with mainstream scientific evidence and expert assessment. For example: Read more »
Nuclear waste will be stored in Sydney at Lucas Heights BY: IMRE SALUSINSZKY, NSW POLITICAL REPORTER The Australian May 01, 2012 NUCLEAR waste due to boomerang back to Australia in 2015 will be stored in metropolitan Sydney, after decades of political dithering over a national radioactive waste repository in the outback.
The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation will today launch its application for a licence to build an 800 sq m interim warehouse on the premises of the research reactor at Lucas Heights, which has generated the waste during the 50 years of its operation. Read more »
The Aboriginal Legal Service: born out of injustice Rebecca Boteler ABC News, February 13, 2012 Not so long ago, Aboriginal people weren’t even recognised as citizens of their own country. They didn’t have the right to vote, the right tohave legal representation or even the right to fight for their own land.
In the early 1970s, an organisation was started to right the wrongs of injustice and give Indigenous people equality before the law. 40 years later, the Aboriginal Legal Service has become much more than that.
A new book, ‘Justice’ documents the story of the ALS, from its humble beginnings to an organisation at the forefront of every major issue facing Aboriginal people today. Its author Fiona Skyring says when the ALS opened its doors in 1973,
there was initially just one full time lawyer…….
the ALS was instrumental in securing land rights agreements for the communities at Noonkanbah and Oombulgurri, paving the way for native title claims in WA.
Land rights wasn’t the only battle the ALS was fighting…..
Solar guru receives Australia Day honour , 26 January 2012, Anna Salleh ABC Science, http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/01/26/3415244.htm Australia needs to look to Germany if it is to realise the potential of solar cell technology, says an expert who is being honoured today. Professor Martin Green of the University of New South Wales has been made a Member of the Order of Australia(AM) for his work on photovoltaics.
“Germany has been the only country that’s had a sensible long-term program in place to promote the use of renewables,” says Green.
Some argue solar cells are not a competitive option for reducing carbon emissions, and are limited by the fact that they don’t generate energy unless the Sun is shining.
But according to Green, the “stars are aligning for conventional roof mounted solar” and it is ripe for a new kick start from governments. Read more »
Why miners have a right to what’s under your land, Beef Central, By Samantha Hepburn Associate Professor, School of Law at Deakin University18 Nov 2011 All over Australia, landowners are fighting to keep mining companies off their property.
From the Darling Downs to the Liverpool Plains, farmers have been locking out coal seam gas extraction companies. In Victoria, exploratory licences have been granted to the Queensland based mining company, Mantle Mining Pty Ltd, to investigate private land situated in and around the rural Victorian areas of Bacchus Marsh, Darley, Myrniong and Ballan.
Landowners are worried about the effects that exploratory drilling may have upon their the land as well as the possibility that an open cut coal mine may be developed.
Who owns the minerals under your land? Read more »
VIDEO Mine expansion draws more water from basin ABC News, Paul Klaric, October 14, 2011 Scientists are concerned that the the proposed Olympic Dam mine expansion will put a strain on Australia’s greatest underground water supply. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-10-14/mine-expansion-draws-more-water-from-basin/3572500
GREEN LIGHT FOR OLYMPIC DAM EXPANSION THE BLOGGER IS A BHP BILLITON SHAREHOLDER. On 13 May 2011 the company announced a proposal for six-fold expansion of Olympic Dam Mine in South Australia – to extract the most valuable single mineral deposit in the world. The mine will consume up to 42 million litres of water a day from the Great Artesian Basin for plus 40 years.
USE OF THE GREAT ARTESIAN BASIN BY THAT MINE IS THE ISSUE WHICH THIS BLOG ADDRESSES
On 10 October 2011 the South Australian (SA) Government granted approval for the BHP Billiton (BHP) Olympic Dam expansion. The Indenture Bill, signed on 12 October by representatives of BHP and the State Government, will now be submitted to vote in the SA Parliament. The SA government will not terminate or suspend the current licence which entitles BHP to take 42 million litres of water each day for Olympic Dam from the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) - but BHP will in the future pay for GAB water. This failure of the SA Government to protect the best interests of the GAB represents an enormously significant strategic win for BHP.
( Once again – so much news on Olympic Damn that we have put a selection of other items on http://nuclearnewsaustralia.wordpress.com/)
A headache of Olympic proportions The Drum, Scott Ludlam, 13 Oct 11 The concept of ‘environmental protection’ has taken on new meaning with the announcement of Commonwealth environmental approvals for BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam copper/gold/uranium mine in South Australia.
“We have the toughest environmental conditions that you’ll ever find imposed on a uranium mine,” Commonwealth Environment Minister Tony Burke stated proudly.
This is known in the technical literature as a ‘bald-faced lie’. We know that, because the toughest environmental conditions found at a uranium mine are 2,000 kilometres northward, at the Ranger Uranium mine on a lease chopped out of Kakadu National Park in the NT. There, the company is required to backfill the mine voids with their radioactive wastes, removing somewhat more than a hundred million tonnes of the stuff from the surface and dumping it back in the pit to be capped and revegetated as best as possible. In Kakadu, the company is required to isolate these wastes from the wider environment for a period not less than 10,000 years. This is clearly an impossible task, but a worthy ambition at least.
No such duty of care will be applied for the benefit of South Australians. Mr Burke has earnestly reassured us that conditions will apply for 10 years after the life of the mine. He has granted approval for the mine tailings waste to be dumped and left out on the surface in apparent ignorance of the fact that the residual inventory of Uranium 238 has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, and that the mine wastes will contain a cocktail of unwanted daughter isotopes including radium, protactinium, radon gas and radioactive lead. Read more »
With Diesel rebates, BHP’s Olympic Dam Royalties likely to return poorly to South Australian Government
Mike Rann has claimed that the new open-pit mine will be his “economic legacy to the state.” However, a consideration of the financial return to BHP through diesel rebates alone indicates that this legacy may be somewhat overstated…
BHP stands to gain $128 million per year in diesel rebates in the initial development period of the mine, $144 million per year in the intermediate stage, and $178 million per year at full production.
Public resources for private profit: free water for the largest open-pit mine in the world Coober Pedy Regional Times, by: Nectaria Calan, 13 Oct 11, ”………With approval of the new mine announced on Monday, the next stage of the approval process is the negotiation of a new Indenture Act which will apply to the new mine. It is expected that the revised Act will be introduced into the South Australian parliament next week, given Mike Rann’s commitment to finalising the indenture agreement before his retirement on October 20.
It is within the power of the South Australian government to negotiate a substantially different indenture agreement, or to repeal the Indenture Act completely. Read more »